The San Jose Earthquakes were one of only three teams to make a selection in Stage One of the MLS Re-Entry draft last week, selecting reserve goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum with the second overall pick.
Stage Two of the Re-Entry Process takes place on Thursday, and should be a livelier affair as clubs can now re-negotiate player contracts instead of paying 105 percent of 2014 salaries — as is the case in Stage One.
In Stage Two, clubs have seven days to make an offer to their selection. If they fail to do so, players become available to the rest of the league on a first-come first-serve basis.
San Jose holds the second overall pick and should the Earthquakes decide to make a selection in the first round, they will be eligible to make a selection in the second round and so on, until they choose to pass.
Over the last two seasons the Earthquakes have used this draft process to add defensive depth, picking right-backs Shaun Francis and Brandon Barklage in 2013, and Ty Harden, Dan Gargan and Bryan Jordan in 2012.
For an understanding of the activity level, eight players were selected in Stage Two as opposed to five in Stage One in 2013, and 14 as opposed to one in 2012.
The Re-Entry draft is a get what you can type of situation, and a way for clubs to add veteran reserves rather than top-tier talent.
But for a San Jose team that lacked depth at multiple positions in 2014, there are a handful of players that deserve a serious look.
CAM Martin Rivero – Chivas USA – Age 25
Staying off the trainer’s table has been the biggest issue for the Argentinian since he arrived on loan for the Colorado Rapids in 2012. When he’s been healthy however, Rivero has been a terrific playmaker managing 14 assists in three injury shortened seasons, and three assists in seven league appearances for Chivas USA last year.
At 25, Rivero is one of the few young talents available in Stage Two and is a great value with a contract at just over $50k according to MLS figures. At different times for Chivas, Rivero played as an attacking, central and defensive midfielder, and is capable with both his right and left foot. This versatility makes him a feasible option at any of the midfield spots in head coach Dominic Kinnear’s diamond.
Injury concerns are the looming issue, and though teams may elect to pass on giving Rivero another shot until it’s proven he can both recover from his current injury and stay healthy long enough to warrant an investment, his upside and low price tag probably make him worth the gamble right now.
Chandler Hoffman – LA Galaxy – age 24
Hoffman might not have scored for the Galaxy this season (he made eight late-substitute appearances) but his 13 goals in 17 games for LA Galaxy II have certainly raised eyebrows around the league.
San Jose has already signed three young strikers with nonexistent MLS scoring records, and scoring consistently is something the Earthquakes desperately need. Chris Wondolowski is the only striker on the roster that has ever scored more than 10 goals in a season, and as of right now Hoffman has scored a grand total of zero goals in his MLS career.
If San Jose is going to sign a fourth striker this offseason, conventional wisdom would say it will likely be a player they think can make an immediate impact. But again, with a price tag of under $50K, the Earthquakes shouldn’t hesitate if they think there is even an outside chance that Hoffman has a future as a prolific goal scorer.
Montreal center-backs Futty Danso – age 31 / Matteo Ferrari – age 35
With the departure of reserve center-back Jason Hernandez in the expansion draft, San Jose has three center-backs on it’s roster in Victor Bernardez, Clarence Goodson and Ty Harden. Depth at this position is crucial, especially with an unproven goalkeeper guarding the sticks this time around.
Ferrari started 25 games for Montreal in 2014 and would be a solid veteran backup if the Earthquakes could get him to agree to a reasonable contract. Depending on how the Italian rates himself that could prove difficult, especially with rumors that he may be considering retirement. If Ferrari is in fact on the fence about lacing up for a final season, a role that doesn’t provide frequent playing time is probably off the table.
For that reason (former) teammate Futty Danso might be a more plausible choice even if he is coming off a down year in which he only started 13 games for Portland and Montreal. Like many on this list, injuries hampered Danso’s 2014 campaign. When healthy, the 31-year-old Gambian is a proven, experienced center-back, who was a key cog in a Portland defense that allowed only 33 goals in 2013.
With his stock at a low point, San Jose would have an opportunity to sign a player with a lot left in the tank at a bargain rate.
Age is the potential issue here, with all three of San Jose’s CBs also over 30 years old. Making a move for a younger defender or acquiring depth through the draft may be the direction general manager John Doyle and Kinnear elect to go.
CDM Hendry Thomas – FC Dallas – Age 29
For the moment, it looks as if all three San Jose defensive midfielders will be back next year. Sam Cronin is out of contract, but was protected in the recent expansion draft. Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi was not protected, but commands a $240k price tag that will be difficult to offload. At 22, JJ Koval is likely the player of the future at this position and isn’t going anywhere.
While it may not be a need, a healthy Hendry Thomas would give both Cronin and Pierazzi a run for their money.
Thomas was a regular starter for FC Dallas from the start of 2014 before suffering a torn thigh muscle. Thomas is known for his hard tackling, but is also very capable with the ball at his feet and has strong technical ability. He’d also provide a Honduran connection in the spine of the team with fellow countryman Victor Bernardez.
Like the aforementioned Rivero, Thomas had what looked to be a promising 2014 derailed by multiple trips to the injury report, culminating in a midseason ACL injury that ended his campaign.
Even with the inconsistency of the midfield last season, a new CDM is not seen as a necessity considering the myriad of other holes in the squad, especially one coming off a fairly serious injury. As one of the best players in the draft however, he could get a look if he falls to the second round.
ST/CAM Dwayne De Rosario – Toronto FC – Age 36 — De Rosario has played more matches for San Jose (106) than any other club in his 14 year career, and it would be fitting for the MLS legend to finish where it all began. But De Rosario is just not the same player he was even two seasons ago. The Quakes need a forward that can score goals and DeRo has scored 4 in his last 42 appearances. San Jose has added to their depth at striker, so there’s little reason to sign another forward that isn’t a bona fide first teamer. Still can’t beat that celebration though.
CB Jeff Parke – DC United – Age 32 — Was great for DC before migraine headaches and inner ear surgery ended his season prematurely. Another proven MLS defender in a draft that is somewhat rife at center-back. Currently under contract for $215K a year, San Jose would need to get him to agree to restructure his contract. Parke also hasn’t played since his surgery and it remains unknown if his health issues are resolved.
RW Kalif Alhassan – Portland Timbers – Age 24 — Alhassan saw his playing time diminish significantly in 2014, and managed only a goal and an assist in 15 appearances. With Atiba Harris expected to be gone, that leaves Cato as the only remaining winger, and Alhassan could be an upgrade in that area. But Alhassan’s lack of accuracy in front of goal was a significant factor in his reduced playing time, and for a San Jose team that only managed 35 goals in 34 games, that fact doesn’t sweeten the deal.